Royston charity shop volunteers are ‘gutted’ after deposit money for Christmas meal is stolen by burglars

Volunteers, Dora Kessler, Sylvia Smith, Thelma Glennon, Julia Carolan, Pamela Dearman, Amanda Rule a

Volunteers, Dora Kessler, Sylvia Smith, Thelma Glennon, Julia Carolan, Pamela Dearman, Amanda Rule and Brenda Clavert - Credit: Archant

The manager of a Royston charity shop has spoken of her devastation after thieves broke into the shop overnight and stole the deposit which had been collected from volunteers to help pay for their Christmas get-together.

Janice Farrelly, manager at Age UK in Church Lane, said the burglary happened at some time between 5pm on Wednesday and 9am on Thursday.

And she said having to cope with such a blow with Christmas just around the corner ‘leaves a bad taste in your mouth’

She said: “You feel violated. The most upsetting bit of it all was that they stole the deposit. We are absolutely gutted. We feel sick that someone has been in here.

“We had been asked to pay the deposit for our Christmas meal by the end of the week.

“There are 24 volunteers and they had collected a deposit for a meal out of their own pocket. It’s all quite difficult to deal with.”

If you would like to make a donation towards the Christmas meal deposit, then you can pop into the shop.

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Janice said: “It would be so nice if people would do that.”

There have been a total of 22 break-ins at homes in Royston since September, an increase of 32 per cent on the same period last year, equating to seven more crimes.

It is the highest rise in the whole of North Herts – which as a district has seen a five per cent rise since last year – leading Chief Insp Julie Wheatley to describe it as a ‘hot-spot’ area.

She said: “We will do everything we can to put a stop to these crimes and will be directing policing resources to hot-spot areas, particularly Royston.

“Burglary can have a long-term effect on the lives of victims.

“As the evenings are now getting darker earlier and with Christmas on the horizon, the risk increases and, while we are working hard to prevent burglaries in North Herts, we are urging residents to take some simple steps to help keep their properties more secure.

“Make sure all doors and windows are fully locked before leaving your property unattended and consider installing a timer switch to turn on lights when it gets dark to make it appear that someone is at home.

“My officers will be out and about on proactive, highly visible and covert patrols over the coming weeks to stop burglars in their tracks and prevent break-ins.”

On Saturday, two houses in Garden Walk were targeted by thieves who caused £500 worth of damage to one property and seized precious gold jewellery and an Apple MacBook from another.

Between 11.30am on Saturday and 7pm on Sunday, two wedding bands worth a total of £400 were stolen from a house in Field Crescent.

The week before, four burglaries were reported in the town, with a gold necklace, six sets of cufflinks and cash all taken.

The burglaries were committed at two houses in Ackroyd Road, one in Furze Grove and another in Newmarket Road.

Addo Addison, who set up the Royston for ANPR campaign group, which aims to bring back security cameras monitoring cars coming in and out of the town, said: “If you travel through any other town, there is ANPR everywhere.

“The ANPR cameras were turned off after the Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that seven cameras were a disproportionate response to the level of crime in the town.

“I have arranged a meeting with Chief Insp Wheatley and safer neighbourhood sergeant Guy Westwood to ask how many crimes there would have to be turn the cameras back on, and how quickly the cameras can be reactivated.”